History of Henry Davison and His Accomplishments
Henry Davison was born on November 3, 1926, to a single mother in Jackson, Mississippi. Henry grew up in the deep South during the late 1920's and 1930's, living with his grandfather who was a former slave and surrounded by neighbors who were members of the KKK. When his grandfather died, he spent his young years being shifted between various aunts, uncles, and cousins. In his early 20s, he lived in Chicago for a short time but eventually moved back to Mississippi. Henry was drafted into the Army at 18, served in Korea, Germany, and various other duty stations. He was very proud of his military service and retired from the army as a Sergeant First Class and again moved back to Mississippi. Good jobs were hard to find in Mississippi at that time but Henry heard jobs were available at Rockwell Goss so he moved to Cedar Rapids. He retired from Rockwell Goss, but Henry had no intention of just retiring. Henry decided there was community work to be done.
Henry started the Linn County Blues Society with nothing but an idea. He was convinced the community needed to be more appreciative of the Blues style of music and needed to understand that Blues is an American music style originated by African Americans of the deep South. The Linn County Blues Society is still thriving in Cedar Rapids and continues to teach appreciation for Blues music, which was Henry's vision for that organization.
Henry saw a need for young people to have safe haven after school. So, In 1997, Mr. Henry Davison founded The Henry Davison Youth Center to provide children in Cedar Rapids’ neighborhoods a safe place to hang out after school. His Youth Center was open to all children, which offered a special assistance to local working parents who were concerned for their children from the time they left school to the time the parents got home from work. The Center provided meals and snacks, computers, pool tables and a variety of other games and entertainment. In addition, the Youth Center provided Thanksgiving dinner for the community as well as Christmas dinner complete with gifts for all who showed up. For years, The Henry Davison Youth Center provided this support at no cost to the children or their families. All expenses were covered by local donations, which is a tribute to Mr. Davison's skill at rallying the community in support of local young people. In addition, the Cedar Rapids "Back to School Backpack Program" was Henry's creation and originated at his 3rd St HD Youth Center. It is now city-wide and supported by many Cedar Rapids organizations..
The Youth Center building on 3rd St was destroyed in the flood of 2008. However, Mr. Davison, his board of directors and countless volunteers from the community worked to rebuild in a new location on Mount Vernon Road SE. Thanks to Mr. Davison's leadership and drive to support youth, coupled with overwhelming support from the community, the Youth Center continued to provide a safe, structured and supervised after-school environment which included after school snacks and an evening meal.
In 2019, the operating expenses, overhead, and attendance ratio necessitated that the Youth Center modify its mission. Thus, in 2019, the decision was made to change the focus of the Youth Center to providing monetary support to local students for post-high school education. In 2019, the Youth Center building was sold and the Henry Davison Scholarship Program was established from the proceeds of that sale.
Henry Davison passed away peacefully in 2019 after a lifetime of service in support of local youth and the Cedar Rapids community. However, his legacy of giving and support to young people and the community lives on through the Henry Davison Scholarship Program.
Henry Davison was a driven person with a purpose and was a huge contributor to community youth. It is truly amazing that he managed to accomplish all he did, but the real miracle is that he made it happen with nothing but an idea and a purpose.
Our hope is that those applying for these scholarships will carry on Henry's legacy by using his scholarships to drive toward academic excellence and lead by example wherever their dreams take them.
If anyone is interested in reading about his life, his book "Henry Davison: You Can Be What You Want To Be" is available at Barnes and Noble.